1 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, W1U 7PA
WLC Rank : 46
Glass from : £ 11 (175 ml)
BEST FORUplifting dining room with ever-changing lighting settings
Rested Bordeaux, the USA, and lesser-known territories
Gender equality in the workplace
A rich, explorative list with plenty of unique listings devised by Chiltern Firehouse's longest-serving employee, Romain Audrerie and head sommelier, Beatrice Bessi.
Romain Audrerie is Global Wine Director for André Balazs Properties, including Marylebone’s Chiltern Firehouse. He first discovered a love for wine while studying political science in Bordeaux, working on catering jobs alongside including the leaving party for the winemaker of Château Haut-Brion.
Audrerie encourages his team of sommeliers to consider wine as a medium to “create a relationship” with guests “and find out what occasion brings them here.” Although their needs might be conservative, such as “the usual Bordeaux/Burgundy, and needless to say Provence Rosé requested in the courtyard,” Audrerie keenly offers more far-reaching options. These may include Assyrtiko from the Greek Islands (indeed, he dreams of owning a small vineyard on Santorini) and Vermentino from Sardinia, perhaps with squid from the plancha with rye and broccoli pesto, or chargrilled cauliflower ‘zhoug’ and ricotta.
His last coup was getting his hands on a vertical by Napa icon, The Promontory, “a rare Cabernet from Harlan” via a small importer, “proving much less expensive than the ‘official’ merchant.”
Audrerie has been a supporter of English sparkling wine for many years, “establishing a strong relationship with a small Herefordshire operation called Castle Brook.” He is keen to take his team and some of the chefs “to visit the estate and pair its fabulous vintage cuvée with the asparagus from the neighbouring Wye Valley!”
Both being two global ambassadors for Portuguese culture, Audrerie mentions that executive chef, Nuno Mendes (also of Mãos) is a fan of the wines from his close friend, Dirk Niepoort. “Dirk introduced the Nat’Cool series which is a natural extension of a sea change in style at Niepoort since the 2013 vintage towards less extracted, fresher wines which are still packed with personality. With Nat’Cool, Dirk puts the emphasis on organic, low-alcohol, minimal additions, bottled in the specially designed litre bottle and sold at an accessible price. The red is a funky, transparent, peppery and crisp Bairrada red made from one of Dirk’s favourite grapes, Baga.”
Of the wine business, Audrerie, whose dream is to meet Lalou Bize-Leroy, mentions he is “delighted” to see an increase in female sommeliers. “The Chiltern Firehouse team has always been proactive in making sure that an equal balance was a rule from the start.” However, other aspects of the trade prove frustrating. “I am annoyed to see so much money being spent by wine suppliers on expensive brochures, journalist trips, wine consultants and other trolls instead of investing this money into educational trips and training programmes for sommeliers.”
By Douglas Blyde.